Mind your mental diet

Six Minute Read

Mind Your Mental Diet

We are what we eat is a famous saying we’ve all heard over and over again. What if we should also add the observation that “Our minds our made of what we listen to and see”? Food is both the fuel and the building blocks of our bodies and our brains. We deplete our resiliency and longevity by eating the foods that aren’t nourishing while missing out on the opportunity to strengthen ourselves by eating foods that contain what our bodies and brains thrive on. The exact process happens when we consume media.


When we consume healthy foods our physical processes work more efficiently. Our bodies have the resources it needs to better fend off injury and illness. When I consume good food I feel better. When I make a point to consume positive images, thoughts and ideas I do as well. By making a point to mentally consume life affirming growth oriented and interesting ideas delivered in entertaining ways by people of good will, I’m better able to turn even obstacles I encounter into opportunities.

I’m a huge proponent of ancestral eating. But I sometimes stray from the paleo path and when I do I feel lousy both physically and mentally. The times I do get off the straight and narrow, I can look back and find that I’ve not been reading books about or listening to podcasts explaining the benefits of primal eating. By not inoculating myself with these positive sources of information I become more susceptable to the subtle and not so subtle influences around me. Part of the reason for this is, that I like every other average American, am exposed to about 4000 advertisements per day. That number includes everything from internet ads, to billboards, store fronts and government propaganda

There is a reason that your email is free and there is a reason Facebook doesn’t charge you. It is because Ads work. Companies and the government pay them to put messages in front of you in hope of changing how you think. We all want to believe that our behavior isn’t affected by these ads but they are. Our minds take in a lot of information from ads each day that after repeated exposures begins to deeply seep into our decision making processes. It’s like mindlessly eating snacks while watching tv. Before you know it the bag of potato chips are gone and you were not even aware you were eating. Or it’s like when we don’t control what we are being served to eat when we go to someone’s home for dinner. We consume ads in a similar way. We accept what we are given or we mindlessly consume information without considering or even being aware of the consequences.

But there is hope of course. Like any diet we first need to know what is wrong with our current way of eating and make adjustments. One of the biggest steps for me is that on a regular basis I clear out my “mental food fridge”. I get rid of all the junk that is not helping me to enjoy life more fully. I eliminate or greatly limit all the sources of media that I go to in order to get that quick dopamine fix, or that I indulge in when I’m procrastinating or just because I’ve made a habit of watching. These sources of negative mental foods include twitter posts and youtube video rants about gloom and doom. I’ve spent hours going down the rabbit holes of conspiracy and the always imminent collapse of civilization. This doesn’t mean I don’t indulge now and again on both. I’m fascinated and curious about large social patterns and past cataclysms and do believe that a major event could be possible again.

In order to have a ready supply of positive nourishing mental food at hand to offset the occasional indulgences, I seek out positive sources of information which don’t ignore reality but illuminate the human condition in order to help individuals improve their lives. For me the Joe Rogan Podcast is my biggest mental food staple and has been for years. He explores the ideas that help humans live better and he does so in a funny, intellectual and empathetic way. On The JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE he’s had everyone from Neil Degrasse Tyson to Steve-o. Nutrition, fitness, mental toughness, comedy, overcoming adversity, scientific discoveries, becoming a better human being are all themes he explores. The conversations are always deeper than what you’ll find with most other places because he spends between two to three hours with them. When I consume most JRE podcasts I feel better. My mood is lifted, I’m motivated to take actions to improve my life and I have something positive to share with others.

This is 
another amazing part of a Nourishing Mental Diet. You get to can share these ideas and information with others without losing their benefits. This is different than food that you eat. You actually increase your positive mental state when you share these nourishing bits of positiveness. On the other hand if you share negative information you are now feeding that person negative mental food. I heard someone say once “Don’t dump your mental garbage into my mind.” When we share positive information, emotions and energy we are becoming a source of nourishing mental food for others and reducing the amount of mental garbage in the world.

We all have a choice each day on what we choose to consume, whether it’s physical food or mental food. These choices create a trail of complicated consequences that can last a lifetime. Even if the effects aren’t felt immediately they can add up and make a huge difference in what we think, how we perceive the world, how we emotionally feel and how we interact with others. Our body and our mind to a large extent are both the product of what we consume. We can be filled with junk food and negative media that creates an inflamed mind and body or we can ingest the positive nourishing food and ideas that makes us feel better and which enable us to create the body and world that we want to live in.

Brad Miller

Miracle Fruit and Chemo tongue 

My mom just had her second round of chemo yesterday. She’s beginning to have trouble getting water down because of the taste. That was before she ate something called a Miracle Fruit Berry. After eating one small berry and then taking a sip of H2O she exclaimed “It tastes like water”. Before she would say that it tastes like have a mouth full of coins and could hardly get water down. 

The Miracle Berry is a small red berry grown indoors in Florida by Miracle Fruit Farms. My grandma, her mom, actually found an article in her local newspaper about this fruit that originated in Africa. I did a little research and watched the testimonials and ordered some fresh berries and the powdered tablets.

http://miraclefruitfarm.com/ 

Watching my mom suffer with her chemo treatments and being powerless to help her has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Being able to buy something that could possibly help was a no brainer. You can buy fresh berries, powdered berry tablets and even whole beery plants. The fresh berries are the most expensive option because they go bad so quickly. The tablets are less expensive and I would assume their top seller. We chose to buy both just to see if there was a difference. 

The berries have a special chemical that acts on the the tastebuds that help mask the metallic taste caused by chemo. And for my mom it works. It’s advised to eat the berry or tablet before you eat or drink and swish it around your mouth in order to coat your tongue. The effect is supposed to last from 15 minutes to 2 hours. 

I ate a Berry as well tonight and almost cracked a tooth. Turns out there is a huge pit in each berry so I advise caution when eating. The taste is very pleasant and you can feel the pulp coating your tongue as you chew it. After mom drank her water and found that it tasted like water again, I took a sip of my Yerba Mate tea in which I added some lemon to. 

At first I didn’t know what was going as I was expecting the sour punch of half a lemon in my tea and it wasn’t there. My brain wasn’t able to compute what my taste buds were reporting, my tea didn’t have the acidic lemon flavor I’ve come to love at all. In fact it tasted like sweet tea. I had to take a few more sips before I remembered reading that the same chemical that can mask the metallic taste induced by chemo can also  make sour foods taste sweet. Very crazy. I’m 30 minutes in and the effect is still going strong. 

If you miss sweet tea and you are on a Primal or Paleo or a no-sugar diet this may satisfy that craving.

After I placed the order the fresh Miracle Berries and Berry tablets arrived in about two days. We’ve not tried the tablets yet but will try them tomorrow. And also we’ve frozen the fresh berries and we’ll see if that alters the effect on the taste buds. Hopefully they’ll stop work. 

Chemo is horrible. In fact one of her 5 chemo drugs is actually a mustard gas derivative. To make it through this poisoning she has to eat and drink even though her mouth and throat are full of sores and on top of that food and water taste terrible. She has Miracle Mouth Wash and a homemade baking soda and salt mouth rinse for the sores but the the medical community doesn’t seem to have any answer to undoing her tastebuds short circuiting. 

Miracle Fruit is the one thing so far that we’ve found to help water not taste horrible to her. We’ll see about it affects the taste of food tomorrow. Anything I can do to  make her trip through this chemical induced hell, we call chemo, easier, I will happily do. 

Update – 3 days after chemo mom used the berry tablet and was able to drink a fruit and veggie smoothie. She tried it before the tablet and said it tasted terrible. But after letting a Miracle Fruit berry tablet dissolve and coat her tongue, she tried it again and with a smile said “it tastes good”. 

If you know anyone suffering through chemo and they are complaining of food and water not tasting right you might want to visit Miracle Fruit Farm and do your own research to see i you think it will help someone you love. I know I’m glad I did. 

Brad Miller

Fellow Human 

Dehydration and demotivation

Emerson “A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

Dehydration occurs when you have lost too much water before you replace it and demotivation can occur when we don’t consume quality sources of motivation on a regular basis. Both of these states can have a detrimental effect on the mind and body. I dehydrate extremely quickly because of the ileostomy I’ve had for 25 years. And I also demotivate extremely quickly as well because of my chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and the complications from multiple surgeries of the past. Drinking plenty of water and daily consuming high quality sources of motivation to provide my brain this vital neural nutrient are both required for me to live better today.

For me motivation consists of two things: Hope and an example. Currently I’m filling my daily recommended intake of motivation with three sources: Emerson’s Essays, The Documentary “Tim’s Vermeer” and the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Even though these three sources of motivation seem disparate and are delivered in different forms (the written word for Emerson, Moving Pictures for “Tim’s Vermeer”, and the spoken word with “The Joe Rogan Experience”), they all provide me with the motivation that I need throughout the day.

The Essay’s of Emerson are full of hope. Currently I’m reading his essays in a collection called “The Spiritual Emerson”. The professor who wrote the introduction, relates how his students responded to Emerson when reading his works for the first time. They were excited to be reading Emerson, and the reason they gave was, because it gave them hope. That is an essential element for human beings. We need to consume external sources of motivation that contain the essential element of hope everyday. In his essay “Self-Reliance” he urges us all to follow our own path and not to submit to what others want for us. In “Compensation” he explains how when humans work, there is a law of compensation that even if it’s not readily perceived, virtuous action is itself a reward. And  along with hope, Emerson is an amazing example as well. He charted his own path during a time when the vast majority of people in this country were diametrically opposed to how he thought.

Emerson’s Essay Self-Reliance

Another source of hope and example I’ve been feeding upon lately is the wonderful documentary, “Tim’s Vermeer”. It’s a film by Penn and Teller who follow from conception to completion, their friend Tim’s obsession with figuring out how the Renaissance painter Vermeer could paint so realistically, and in particular how he painted his famous painting “The Music Lesson”. Tim had a hunch that Vermeer used an optical device that used mirrors and he set out to see if he could recreate his process. Tim actually rebuilt Vermeer’s workshop in a warehouse in Texas and created in excruciating detail The Music Lesson’s scene and he did most of the work himself.  But in the end (spoiler alert), Tim was able to recreate “The Music Lesson” using the optical device he created using materials that were available during Vermeer’s time. Absolutely incredible. It took him over a year.

Tim’s example of dedication to discover and then recreate the Vermeer is absolutely amazing. And this example gives me hope. What is great about a quality source of motivation like this, is that it isn’t consumed inside the brain. As long as I recall the film, I am able to restock my tank of motivation from inside my own mind any time I’m running low. That’s why I prefer to consume only high quality sources of motivation. They persist.

Tim Vermeer’s on Blu-ray – Amazon

The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast combines the two elements of motivation, hope and example, better than any source I’ve discovered yet. In every episode I’m able to find motivation from him and his guests that help to refill my motivation tank. The reason why I am a huge fan is that he is a sincere guy who seeks excellence in his own life, whether its his stand up comedy, jujitsu, his health and fitness or commentating for the UFC. He has a commitment to excellence but still enjoys life, is silly with his friends and can still carry on an enlightening conversation with neuroscientists, rock stars and medical doctors. His example of empathy, intelligence and persistence is built upon his actions. And he is also a purveyor of hope. For example, he has helped many of his friends and guests start their own podcasts. He tells them “If I can do it you can too, I’ll help you.”  In a few days his friend or guest will have a podcast up and running. The reason why I’m starting up my podcast “Chronically Human” is because of the hope and example he’s provided for me, without even knowing who I am.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience at Youtube

When I’m dehydrated I don’t clearly and my body is sluggish. The same thing happens when I don’t consume my daily requirement of motivation. We breath, drink, eat and consume motivation so we can act. By consistently refilling my motivation tank, I’m able to close the gap between thought and action. And when I’m able to do this consistently I can become a motivation to others, and that’s my way of ensuring that this essential neural nutrient containing hope and example, are plentiful and growing in the world.

Along with my daily dose of external motivation, I also create internally my own motivation by remembering my past actions in which I persisted, in which I overcame, and in which I helped someone else do the same. My internal source of motivation is still limited and I’m working on relying on this more and more. Just like I only have so much water in my body at the moment, I only have so much motivation as well. When I’m dehydrated or demotivated I don’t enjoy life, my mind is cloudy and the lag between thought and action becomes so large that I end up accomplishing very little. I have to tell myself drink more water and consume more sources of motivation and both help me to overcome the resistance to act.

“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” Emerson

Brad Miller

Fellow Human

Yerba Mate, Inflammation Brain and Flow State     

  
I’ve taken a ton of supplements, vitamins and nootropics in my life to help me develop a cleaer, more calm, and focused mind. Almost all of the stuff I’ve taken hasn’t had any discernible effects. One of the substances that has bucked the trend and has actually helped my mental state greatly is Yerba Mate tea. This powerful elixir from South America has positive noticeable effects on my brain and body almost as soon as the warm earthy green liquid crosses my lips. 

What is Yerba Mate?
The first time I drank Yerba Mate I couldn’t believe how it effected me. It provided mental and physical energy without the jitteriness of just caffeine, plus a level of focus and mental clarity which most of the time escapes me. For the last 30 years I’ve been dealing with autoimmune conditions, chronic pain and chronic inflammation. And these issues create what I call inflammation brain and when I’m under its spell entering into a flow state or simply getting through the day is extremely difficult. 

I’m obsessed currently with getting into, maintaining and living within a flow state as much as I can. Along with helping with forgetting oneself, time dialation and just feeling good, the flow-state produces positive physiological changes which are thought to help with autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. 

Yerba Mate’s unique composition of chemicals produces a similar feeling in me comparable to a low level or micro-flow state. And it also produces the mental jumping off point in which I can enter into a deeper flow state more easily.  When I’m tired and don’t feel well my brain is filled with a sludge or a fog . My mental processes are slowed, motivation evaporates, solution and novelty seeking are dramatically reduced and I just feel stuck.  I chalk this up to my autoimmune and inflammatory issues. This inflamed brain state  makes thinking difficult and making decisions even harder. When I drink Yerba Mate all of these symptoms are greatly reduced or even totally eliminated for up to four hours. 

After downing a cup of the Yerba Mate tea my mind clears and my thoughts are light and move without much effort, instead of being stuck in the mental sludge as usual.  The powerful chemical mix contained within the Mate include caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine along with tons of vitamins and minerals.

Caffeine is familiar to us all and most are familiar with its effects. Theophylline and theobromine are not as well known. Theophylline has anti-inflammatory effects and it is a vasodiallator which helps lower blood pressure and can help improve breathing. Theobromine effects the vagus nerve, the heart  and also is a vasodiallator. These compounds work synergistically to create positive changes to the body and brain. 

This means that when I drink Yerba Mate my fatigue is less noticeable, I can focus on one thing at a time, I can switch to another task or idea seemlessly, my body and mind are more relaxed and energized, and the perceived resistance to starting a task, which I am normally paralyzed by,  is greatly reduced. Also I’m less bothered by interruptions or issues that crop up during the day which, without the Mate, would easily trigger disappointment or feelings of anxiety. 

I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars on supplements, vitamins and nootropics in order to relieve my inflammatory induced brain state. Now for less than two cents a day I can banish the brain fog, gain mental clarity, ignore distractions, more easily, and clear away mental and physical fatigue. By reducing or eliminating these symptoms of inflamed brain I’m able to to enter into, achieve, and  maintain  mental flow states more easily throughout the day. And this makes living a hell of a lot more enjoyable. 

One of my favorite sayings is “Enjoy what you can and endure what you must”. I’m on a perpetual quest for ideas, substances and practices that help me to be able to do this more in life.  A warm mug of Yerba Mate in the morning is a good way for me to ensure that I’m able to enjoy and endure a little more each day. 

Brad 

FYI:

Even though Yerba Mate is stimulating ai don’t just drink it in the morning , I also drink in the evening if I’m finding it hard to relax my inflamed mind and body. It calms and clears my mind and relaxes my body. Instead of keeping me up it actually and helps me to fall asleep. 

Bone broth, hospitals and bad memories 

  
When I’m in the hospital one of the things I hate the most (besides the dehumanization, pain, misery and zero sleep) is the food. And the one food that has turned my stomach more by its mere presence than any other food, was beef broth. The smell always produced the physical preparations for vomiting as soon as the smell hit my nose. That is why I was shocked today when I drank a full cup of bone beef broth and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I was very anxious as I cut open the package of Kettle and Fire’s grassfed beef bone broth today  and waited to have my nose assaulted by the noxious nauseating  odor of beef broth but that never happened. In fact as I took the initial first whiff of the golden elixir it was not offensive in the least. Feeling a little more confident,  I poured the contents into a sauce pan and began to simmer it. I thought surely as it heated the unpleasant aroma would be released and assault my nostrils just as the disgusting beef broth had always done when I was in hospital.

Again my nose was spared. The aroma was mild but very pleasant. I poured a mug of the clear golden  brown liquid, girded my loins and tentaviley took a sip. I waited for my tongue and stomach to immediately revolt but they did not. I took another sip and another. It took my brain a few seconds to catch up and realize,  that it was not in the least revolting, and yes it was truly delicious.

No off flavors, no tinny taste and most surprisingly I found hints of maple syrup notes in the broth. The more I drank it the more I enjoyed it. Not only was it extremely tasty and satisfying it left my cracked lips moisturized. With each sip a pleasant and tasty glossy residue was left on my lips as a reminder of the reported healing properties it contains.  

I’ve had bone broth sitting in my pantry for six months now. Every time I would see it on the shelf I would say to myself “I’ll try it tomorrow” because I dreaded taking a sip. But the fear was unfounded. Kettle and Fire has produced an amazing product that is something I am going to incorporate into my morning and evening routine. 

Bone broth’s reported health benefits are legion. I am most interested in its reported ability to help heal the GI tract and also help with skin issues such as psoriasis. And on top of all the health benefits it’s also delicious. I plan on having a cup tonight before dinner. 

If you are interested in more of the health benefits visit Kettle and Fire’s website: https://www.kettleandfire.com

Their ingredient list is impressive which includes grassfed beef bones along with veggies and herbs. For me drinking the bone broth not only nourished my body but also helped me to mentally overcome a past negative memory and by doing so enjoy a new positive experience that will hopefully lead to improved health over the long haul. 

How many other things do I avoid today that could be potentially good for me because of the negative memories that I still hold on to from the past? That is a question I will ponder tonight as I enjoy a steaming mug of Kettle and Fire’s grassfed beef bone broth. 

Brad 

FYI: In 2013 there was a study done showing high lead levels in chicken bone broth. The study was severely flawed. You can read a full write up about it here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/soy-alert/bone-broth-and-lead-contamination-a-very-flawed-study-in-medical-hypotheses/

Roles Reversed

I’ve been chronically unwell for the last 30 years. During that time I’ve endured 20 surgeries, 40 bowel obstructions, a permanent ileostomy and for the last few years pancreatitis attacks. Through all of it from my search for a diagnosis at age 11 through to my last stint in the hospital in May of this year, my mom has been there for me. Now I’m getting to repay a small amount of the debt that I owe her. Our roles have been reversed.

In September she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, has had a mastectomy, a removal of her reconstructed breast, tens of doctors appointments, a port put in and had her first chemo treatment last week. Her surgeries, her chemo treatment and her doctors are in a hospital that’s right across the street from the hospital I’ve gone to since I was 11. Now I’m the one driving her up north to some of her appointments to north of Atlanta so she can get well.

Helping mom heal has been just as healing for me.  Over the years mom has invested so much of her time and energy into my mere survival that I’m grateful I’m able to help her now in her time of need. One of my biggest fears when she was first diagnosed was that I wouldn’t be of any help, and I would be unable to step up and be at least a partial care giver. I was struggling horribly with debilitating pain when she was first diagnosed. I was in the midst of months of pain due to pancreatitis caused by a gallstone.

My GI doctor during this time wanted me to have surgery but I refused. Instead I started a course of cannabis capsules and in about ten days the pain was gone. I’d had that horrible pain for at least two months straight. Before I started the cannabis, I would sleep in the bathtub  at night because the hot water along with oxycodone was the only way I could find some relief. Then one Saturday it just stopped. And this was a couple weeks out from mom’s surgery. I knew if i had surgery I’d been unable to help her. I’m glad I made that call.

I owe my life to my mom not only for giving birth to me but for helping keep me alive through all the trials of surgery and chronic pain over the last 30 years. This year I became a Primal Health Coach and mom was my first client. I live with mom and I do most of the grocery shopping and I’ve cooked the majority of the meals since I’ve moved in. Mom has lost nearly 100 pounds in a year. Her doctor told her that for women who are overweight it’s harder to detect small tumors in a mammogram.

Her cancer was super aggressive and if they hadn’t caught the tumors when they did it could have been a whole different outcome. Her doctor said that losing the weight could have saved her life.  I’m grateful I’ve been able to play a small part in helping get her cancer detected as well with her recovery and ongoing journey now with getting through chemo.

Love isn’t about a scale to be balanced. It’s not about clearing up a “debt”. Mom taught us all that love is unconditional and that it’s not a word, it’s an action. During her recent bout with cancer all of our family have been able to show mom how much we all love her by helping take her to the doctor, sit with her during chemo, cook for her and help her get through the nights of bone pain and nausea. We are doing nothing more than merely acting as a mirror reflecting back a small amount of the love she’s always shown us.

Experiencing the care giver role recently has given me a new respect for what mom and what my family have gone through during these many years of my surgeries, illness and all the uncertainty that goes along with it. In the end we do what we must in the midst of the uncertainty of illness and pain, and we are able to endure because of those that love us most.

Breath of Life

The inside of my abdominal cavity is a war zone. I had my colon removed when I was 12, a bunch of surgeries to try and create a “normal” exit for excrement that led finally to a permanent ileostomy that’s been moved a couple of times. Inside I’m filled with adhesions and on the oust side my belly bears the scares of valiant and successful war fought against Ulcerative Colitis, bowel obstructions and the misdeeds of a lying and arrogant surgeon.

Needless to say the last 30 years have been spent trying to figure out how to live with chronic pain, body wide inflammation and three major kinks in my small intestine. After all of this I’ve come to discover that the most important thing that I can do to increase my ability to enjoy the experience of being alive is how I breathe. In the past I’ve been hostile to those who’ve told me to breathe in order to calm down while I’m balled up on a Emergency room gurney while the sixth attempt at an IV is being made. I’ve found that using breathing techniques in that situation wasn’t 100% effective.  But that is why we have the poppy and the cannabis plant. Any other time I’m not experiencing the panicky pain of my small bowel clamping down or my pancreas digesting itself, I’ve found breathing to be a powerful technique that I can use no matter where I go.

“Breathe Motherfucker” Wim Hof

This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. I mentally went through the list of all the negatives in my life – from the classic of I’m a loser because I’m not brining in any income at the moment, to the thought that my savings will be depleted in another few months and that  I have no idea how I’m going to pay for insurance plus my bag leaked all over last night, my guts hurt this morning, I’ve got a cold, and I really don’t see a reason to get out of bed…

I’ve been here many times before and these type of thoughts have led to months and months of being miserable. I don’t want to be miserable any more.  One way I’ve found not to be miserable is through berating in specific ways so after a mini-pity party I began my breathing exercises which I really didn’t want to do. I started with a new breathing technique I read about that has helped eliminate the symptoms of social anxiety without drugs or therapy. In fact the control group that just did the breathing exercises twice a day had better results than those using cognitive behavior strategies. The breathing technique is called the CART method. I’ve not found a ton online about it but this is my version.

Breath in and out a short breath and hold it. When you naturally want to take a breath do. Then breath normally for ten seconds then take another short breath in and out and hold. Repeat this at least three times.

This breathing exercise actually raises CO2 levels in the body. The researchers doing the study found that low levels CO2 may be partially responsible for producing the symptoms of social anxiety. Last year I had comprehensive blood testing done and I had abnormally low CO2 levels. I believe I do because of my shallow breathing patterns due to my abdominal scaring both inside and out. Most of the time it hurts to breath and definitely hurts to take a deep breath.

Lower CO2 levels could also be a part of the reason why I feel like shit when I hurt a lot and have abdominal soreness. This is why I have start off my breathing exercises with this one. It helps to eliminate some of the physical symptoms of anxiety so that I’ll continue with the rest of the breathing exercises and not just say “fuck it” and pull the covers over my head.

The next breathing exercise is meant to calm the mind further by first calming the heart. I found this exercise actually first on the Joe Rogan Podcast episode #873 with Steven Kotler and a more in-depth explanation and implementation of the concept came from a talk by Alan Watkins. It’s something I do while I’m driving and any time I feel my mental state drifting negative or after I’ve had a negative experience or received bad news.

The exercise is to simply breathe in for three seconds and breathe out for seven. The breathing is to be a steady in and a steady out with a break of a few seconds after each exhalation. While breathing I focus on my heart. When the heart is calm the mind calms down. I do this for six reps. By the fifth my negative state of mind has dissipated and the negative thoughts seem to melt away.

I finished off my breathing set this morning with a round of the Wim Hof method of breathing. I always feel better when I do this. This year I almost didn’t go on vacation because my guts hurt so bad. But during the trip down for hours I did this and by the time I got to the beach I was feeling much better and was able to enjoy three days fishing with my brother. Without this technique I wouldn’t have made the trip. This morning it helped me as well. Again this technique is simple but I don’t recommend people perform it while driving – a few times I did almost black out.

The Wim Hof method is again dead simple. Take a deep breath in somewhat forcefully and only exhale a small amount air. Repeat this for up to thirty times. Then take a deep breath in and exhale fully two times and then hold your breath. Then breath once your body wants to breathe again. Breathe a few times normally and do it again for a total of thirty times.

This morning  I started with ten, then I did fifteen and finished the round with twenty inhales and exhales. While I was doing the breath hold I imagined my body being healed by a white light. Last year when I was doing the Wim Hof method course I was able to hold my breath up to 2:30 minutes. This morning I only held it for about 30 seconds to a minute. But that is still enough to gain positive effects.

By the time I was done with my morning breathing exercises I was feeling much better. The general anxiety, demotivated state, uncertainty and over all malaise was gone. I got up showered and even tested my blood sugar. I’m not diabetic but I am starting to chart my blood glucose as it relates to breathing. A study was done by the Navy that showed that SEALS in ketosis had better breath holding times and I’ve experienced much longer breath hold times in the mornings versus the evenings when doing the Wim Hof method protocol.

How I breath greatly determines my mental state. Having extensive internal and external scaring in my abdomen makes breathing something I have to be conscious of throughout the day otherwise I’m shallow breathing all day long. So far I’ve found these three exercises helpfully by themselves and recently started trying them in combination.  This is something that I don’t have to get a prescription for, no insurance company has to approve it, it has zero side effects, makes me mentally and physically feel better, has zero cost and it’s something I can take with me no matter where I go. In the past I would lament, no matter where I go there I am. That’s because my body has tormented me for the last 30 years and I could never get away from it. But now I have a way to calm both my body and my brain no matter where I’m at or what I have with me.

I still can’t get away from my body but I can through breathing create a different mental experience that allows me to clear my mind of negative thoughts and calm my body. All it takes is less than fifteen minutes and it’s like I’m a different person, or more accurately I’m me, without the filter of chronic pain.

Brad Miller